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ESPN’s Clayton: Cardinals losses in free agency outweigh the additions

Arizona Cardinals strong safety Tony Jefferson (22) celebrates his fumble recovery against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: John Clayton, ESPN NFL insider

The 2017 NFL free agency period hasn’t exactly been ideal for the Cardinals. Important players like Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson signed elsewhere without the Cardinals replacing them with players of their caliber.

Every NFL team loses and adds players in free agency, and sometimes the net result benefits the team. But often times it does not, and ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton thinks that’s what happened with the Cardinals.

“It’s the losses not the additions,” Clayton said on Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Friday. “You still wonder about bringing in older players. It’s great for leadership, but it’s also one with older players, are they going to make you better? Are they going to be athletic enough?”

Some of those older players are linebacker Karlos Dansby, safety Antoine Bethea and 42-year-old kicker Phil Dawson. The Cardinals also re-signed defensive end Chandler Jones to a five year contract worth $82.5 million, although he’s still in his prime at age 27.

Bethea and Dansby are both long in the tooth. Bethea has been in the league since 2006 and Dansby has been playing since 2004. Dansby was in Arizona from 2004 to 2009 and had another stint in the 2013 season, while Bethea made three Pro Bowls during his stops with the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers.

Last season, Dansby played 16 games for the Cincinnati Bengals with 114 combined tackles and one sack. Bethea finished with 110 combined tackles and an interception for the San Francisco 49ers.

“Are they going to be athletic enough?” Clayton said. “And a 35-year-old linebacker like Karlos Dansby, yeah great for leadership but he still is 35 years old and Antoine Bethea is 32. So are you going to be as good athletically, particularly too knowing there’s going to be four other voids.”

Campbell and Jefferson weren’t the only losses, either. There wasn’t much turnover on offense, but on the defensive side of the ball Marcus Cooper, D.J. Swearinger and Alex Okafor have signed elsewhere and Arizona will not resign Kevin Minter.

Even after losing some of their better players in free agency, Clayton thinks the Cardinals will be fine.

“They’re still going to be good, they just can’t be as good until we figure out the replacements for the eventual six guys they are going to lose,” he said.



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